Saturday, 26 November 2011

Mexican Wedding Cookies

This week has been one of the best, most relaxing weeks I've experienced in months. This semester has been my busiest ever. First I had my Fulbright application to deal with in september and october. That application was a nightmare. Then I had to start work on prescreening tapes and grad school applications. Those aren't so bad, but they are tedious. Now, with my graduation recital looming on the horizon (December 16th), practicing is getting more and more stressful. Tomorrow, I fly back to New York and all of that craziness, but for now I get to enjoy my fourth day of relaxation, family, good food, and warm weather.

Thanksgiving day was wonderful. I stuffed myself with turkey, cranberry sauce, and cherry pie. My family sang happy birthday to me and I got to open some awesome birthday presents (including the camera with which I took pictures for this post), despite the fact that my birthday doesn't happen until next wednesday. Then, I took advantage of my food coma and slept the entire 3 hour car ride home!
Yesterday, my parents and I had my previous violin teacher, Mr. Goldsmith, over for a late afternoon cheese and wine fest. My mom and I decided to bake something to eat in addition to cheese and crackers. We went with Mexican Wedding Cookies because they're my mom's favourite cookie recipe. I had eaten and enjoyed them before but I had never helped to make them.
These were surprisingly easy to make, and they were delicious. They were definitely a hit. I can't wait to make them for my friends in new york!

Mexican Wedding Cookies
recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle

Yield: 33-35 cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup pecans, toasted
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar placed in sifter for dusting cookies

Place toasted nuts, 1 cup flour, and salt into the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse lightly. The nuts don't need to be really fine. I pulsed it until it was just smaller chunks of pecans.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and the powdered sugar until well combined. Then add the vanilla and almond extracts. Beat just to mix and then begin adding the flour and nut mixture by 1/2 cupfuls.
Blend in the remaining 1 cup flour and mix just until a dough is formed.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place walnut-size pieces of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the cookies for about 18 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Then, cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
Dust a sheet of waxed paper with powdered sugar. Place the cookies on top of the sugar and sift more powdered sugar over them. Let the cookies cool some more before storing them.

Friday, 25 November 2011

All I Want For My Birthday Is...

...a really awesome, fancypants camera.
And that is exactly what I got! Thanks mom and dad!
Now I just have to learn how to take good pictures with it!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Most Delicious Lemon Squares

One of my favourite places to visit is San Francisco. It is an amazing city, and it is also home to my sister, my aunt and uncle, and my cousins. As a result, I end up going to San Francisco at least 2 or 3 times a year, despite the fact that it takes longer to get there from New York than it would take to get to Iceland.
All of my relatives who live in San Francisco are awesome cooks. My sister always amazes me with her creativity when it comes to food. Last time we were both in Houston, she made a pizza with barbeque sauce, peaches, and chorizo. I was seriously skeptical of these flavour combinations, but it was incredible. I also love my Aunt Jeanie's cooking, and have often asked her for recipes.
When I was in San Francisco almost a year ago, Aunt Jeanie made lemon squares that were to die for. I think I ate almost an entire pan of them. Before these lemon squares, I had never loved lemon squares that much. These were so buttery and crumbly, with the perfect balance of tart and sweet. I was so addicted. This was a recipe I had to have, and it is now a recipe that I perhaps make too often. The good news is that my friends love them too, so I always have someone to share them with.
I made a batch recently, realized I hadn't blogged about them yet, and decided that I needed to.
Right after I made this batch, I went to an orchestra rehearsal, during which my roommate Liz texted me to ask if she could have one. I said yes and asked if they turned out okay. Her response was, "Oh my holy f**k they're amazing!" When I returned from orchestra, half of the pan was already gone, courtesy of Simon and Liz.

Lemon Squares
recipe from my Aunt Jeanie

Part 1:
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sifted flour

Spread these ingredients in a 9 by 9 greased pan.
Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Part 2:
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix all ingredients together and pour over first part.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar while still hot.
Cut into squares!